SLO County stays in red tier while posting orange tier-level numbers

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San Luis Obispo County reported its best week for COVID-19 in more than four months on March 9, as new metrics showed a continued decline in case and positivity rates.

PROGRESS Amid a decrease in COVID-19 cases and an increase in vaccinations, SLO County moved into the state’s red tier for economic activity on March 3. - FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY
  • FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY
  • PROGRESS Amid a decrease in COVID-19 cases and an increase in vaccinations, SLO County moved into the state’s red tier for economic activity on March 3.
The latest adjusted case rate of 5.7 per 100,000 residents and positivity rates of 1.9 percent overall and 2.1 percent in disadvantaged areas show SLO County moving in the right direction after a winter surge drove the case rate to 46 per 100,000 residents and the positivity rate to 11 percent.

On March 3, SLO County moved into the state’s less restrictive red tier for economic activity, where schools, gyms, restaurants, movie theaters, and other venues were allowed to reopen indoors.



This week’s numbers declined even further, low enough to meet the state’s orange tier standards. But under current reopening rules, SLO County must stay in the red tier until at least March 24.

“We will be in the red tier for a minimum of three weeks,” SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said at a March 3 press conference. “But at any point [then], if we have two weeks worth of metrics that are more positive—so either our case rates and positivity rates being in orange—we’ll be able to move to orange.”

In the orange tier—which is below the state’s least restrictive yellow tier—outdoor entertainment venues may reopen, along with non-essential offices, indoor pools, bars and wineries without food, and more sectors. Businesses may also increase indoor capacity.

As SLO County continues progressing, the state also recently announced a new framework that will enable counties to move through tiers faster—but it’s contingent on meeting equity goals for vaccine distribution.

Once California administers 2 million COVID-19 vaccinations to its most disadvantaged residents, the state will lower the standards for counties moving from the purple tier to the red tier. After 4 million vaccinations go to those populations, the orange and yellow tiers will also become more attainable.

According to the latest available state vaccine data, California is about 100,000 shots shy of hitting the 2 million equity mark. ∆

—Peter Johnson

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